World-class water skiing is a hidden treasure in Kansas

Published: Jul. 19, 2018 at 7:13 PM CDT
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You wouldn't expect drive across the street from a farm field and land in a world-class water ski facility, but that's exactly what you'll find in Maize, Kansas.

"This place, Mystic Lakes, it's unbelievable. It's a world-class facility right here in Wichita, and I don't think people even know it's here."

Cole Kalkbrenner and his wife Erin have traveled the world as professional water skiers and coaches, but no place has felt more like home, than Wichita. Originally from Kansas City, Erin grew up training locally in the Wichita-area.

"I've grown up skiing with these guys here in Maize," Erin said. It's a beautiful place, it's perfect for water skiing, as you can see."

Cole is originally from St. Louis, but has trained in ideal locations like Florida and Australia. For the past 12 years, he and Erin have coached at Mystic Lakes.

"It's a perfect water skiing mecca," he said. "There are sand pits everywhere, they are just perfect for three-event water skiing. You'll find a lot of slalom courses and jumps all over but it's just the people, having that Midwest feel."

That Midwest feel will be omnipresent around Mystic Lakes in August, when it becomes home to the 2018 GOODE Water Ski National Championships for the first time in city history.

"We have a lot of participants from the Midwest area, which is cool for us because it's a lot of people who have extra incentive to try to come to Maize to try to ski here because they're close and we have a pretty good community," Erin said.

Fans will be treated to world record-holding water skiers, national champions, and international champions. One of those international stars is Levi Kelly, a 14-year-old Australian National Champion from New South Whales.

Kelly has been living with the Kalkbrenners for three years, training at the Mystic Lakes facilities and becoming a third member of the family. He is unable to compete for the National Championship, but he will compete the second day in the international division. His familiarity with the course will be a big advantage.

"I feel pretty good about it," he said. "Especially slalom and jump, because trick you can basically train anywhere. But yeah, I feel like it's home now, so it could be home advantage."

The 2018 GOODE Water Ski National Championships will be held Aug. 7-11, 2018, at Mystic Lakes in Maize, Kan. The bid from the Mystic Lakes Ski Club was approved by the AWSA board of directors at its mid-winter meeting on Jan. 28.

The Mystic Lakes Ski Club, which includes two world-record capability water ski lakes, has previously hosted the Midwest Regional Water Ski Championships, Junior U.S. Open Water Ski Championships and Barefoot Water Ski National Championships. It will mark the first time that the state of Kansas has hosted the Water Ski National Championships.